The Green Lantern is gay. That was the headline seen across webisphere earlier this month. Journalists, commentators, and geek pundits calmly rose as one, nodded together at a secret signal, and all lost their friggin minds about how they shouldn’t be losing their minds.
Now, to clarify, it isn’t Hal Jordan (Though that shake up would make future Green Lantern movies more interesting. Of course, the addition of Jar Jar Binks would improve that franchise.). It’s Golden Age and original Green Lantern Allan Scott. On Earth 2. Oh, and he’s be de-aged, so no more Grumpy Old Men: Super Seniors like before the New 52 (My knuckles cracked as I typed that, as though my very body hates the phrase “New 52.” But, de-aging is a good move, I think.)
And as newly-christened media mogul Scott comes out of the comic stack, as it were, he won’t be coming out into the cold. Oh sure, there aren’t too many characters out there. And a disproportionate number that I could find are from the Batman family. And a lot of them are from imprints like Vertigo and Wildstorm known for boundary-pushing. And many are still minor characters, but still, they exist and that’s something awesome.
Here are five comic (and manga) superheroes that are kickers of ass and proud members of the LGBT community. (Criteria note: I know there are interesting LGBT characters in one shots and novels like Watchmen. I’m focusing on ongoing series. *Shout out to Kevin Keller from Archie.)
Let’s just get this out of the way immediately, shall we? DC made their announcement just after Marvel announced that X-Man Northstar would propose to his boyfriend, Kyle. So, apparently publishers thought there was a finite amount of thunder and wanted to get all of it for themselves. They clearly underestimated the Internet’s ability to obsess and the media’s need to show hipness.
Though introduced in 1979, he didn’t come out until 1992. And while LGBT characters had been floating around the peripheries for a while, Northstar was a major character in a team that had a standalone title from a major publisher. This was five years before Ellen DeGeneres came out.
To be honest, I hear more cracks about his Canadianess than about his sexuality. And that just proves to you – being Canadian is funny.
Sailor Neptune/Sailor Uranus
Just because LGBT characters and couples are new in Western comics doesn’t mean they’ve been MIA in other parts of the world. Couples of all stripes have been filling the pages of Japanese manga and the animation cells of anime for decades… And you can’t talk about manga in the U.S. and not talk about Sailor Moon.
Sailor Neptune and Sailor Uranus are consummate soldiers devoted to their princess and each other. I’ll go on the record as a person who doesn’t “get” anime, and even I was touched by their death in Sailor Stars (Other things I don’t “get”: dark meat chicken, jazz, modernist pencil drawings). I have no idea what’s happening here, but I am 90 percent sure that it’s sad.
Speaking of soldiers, Kate Kane, aka Batwoman, lost everything because of her sexuality. Military officer Kane was dishonorably discharged because of DADT but has continued to protect her home, Gotham.
Batwoman’s often known as the Lesbian Superheroine first and foremost. But, that’s just lazy because her supernatural kicking of bad guy tukas has nothing to do with who she’s dating. And that significant other (prior to the New 52) was none other than fan favorite Renee Montoya, aka “The Question.”
Seriously, DC, I’m thrilled for the whole progressive awesomeness, but, guys, bring back Montoya. I don’t care if you subtly implied she was dead by putting her picture on a memorial wall in the background of a scene where Kane was meeting someone new. Please?
Young Avenger Wiccan has a complicated enough life as it is. He may or may not be the reincarnated son of Scarlett Witch and the Vision. He’s been bullied at school and by pro-registration goons. He has high school and world saving to do. Oh, and he’s a gay teen who is out and in a relationship with teammate Hulkling.
Wiccan’s sexuality and relationship are probably the least complicated thing about his life. And, that just shows how far attitudes in comics have come – when an LGBT character’s love life is the least interesting thing about them and not the sole focus of their character arc.
Why don’t we sit down and unpack all of the stereotypes about gay men that society has. Have them laying out on the table next to you? Good. Now burn them all before Apollo and Midnighter show up because you do not want to piss those guys off.
Prior to the New 52, these Wildstorm characters were the sole survivors of a Stormwatch mission gone bad. They later joined the Authority. They’ve had a commitment ceremony and even have adopted a daughter, Jenny Quantum, together. But the beyond the white picket fence, they’re brutal and efficient the pursuit of what they feel is right.
Looking over this list, the thing that strikes me is that no one is a stereotype, beyond being a stereotypical superhero (Has trouble balancing work and life, not close to family, devoted to a cause, yadda, yadda, yadda.). They’re all fully rounded characters, not a gimmick. When your hero inhabits a world where a space titan wants Earth as an appetizer, a guy with green hair can kill a talk show audience on-air, and a spandex suit is considered the height of fashion, it is important that the world at least partially reflects ours to keep it believable.
But, that said, a character’s sexuality is just one aspect of the diversity that comics could use a solid injection of.
I’ve stuck to five characters to keep the list short, but I know I’ve missed a ton. Who would you add? Do you think bringing a character’s sexuality into the story is a good authorial move or a negative one? Why? A lot of these are from DC or DC imprints, why do you think that is?